Programs Assistant Erin Connolly wrote a column for the Hudson Institute following a presentation she gave on nuclear security issues in hospitals.
The December 11, 2017 explosion in New York City’s Port Authority was a disruptive, but not a devastating attack. The perpetrator wore a homemade device that he constructed using information that he found on the Internet. The attack alarmed the public, but there was some solace in the lack of physical damage. This was due to luck, however — not adequate security. It could have been much worse.
What if the terrorist acquired nuclear or radiological materials and constructed a dirty bomb—a weapon that uses a conventional explosive to spew radioactive material, contaminating large areas?
This is not a distant threat. There are hospitals all over New York City that hold blood irradiators, equipment used for blood transfusions. Inside each irradiator is a capsule with a cesium-137 source, a highly dangerous material that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) — the world’s nuclear watchdog —ranks as a Category I source, reserved for the most deadly substances. Read more